Destination weddings require certain logistical considerations that make the invitation process much more involved than for a local wedding. Save-the-date cards, optional for most weddings, are a must to give guests trip-planning time. Save-the-dates and actual invitations must be sent much earlier than non-destination wedding announcements and invites, and you must provide more information about accommodations, attire and scheduled events than guests normally need. You face similar who-to-invite decisions as all engaged couples, but don't omit someone from your invite list because of the travel cost.
To Invite or Not Invite
As with any wedding, you must decide whether your destination wedding will be a small, intimate family affair or will include a wide circle of friends and whether children are welcome. If you exclude children, don't put their names on the invitations. Confirm your hotel's policy toward child guests so that you can advise guests accordingly. Don't base your guest list on whether you think someone can afford to attend; rather, send formal invitations to the special people in your lives whom you want to witness your nuptials.
Following the traditional invitation timetable -- six weeks prior to the wedding -- doesn't give guests enough notice for a wedding that requires air travel or takes place during the peak travel season when fares are the highest. Destination weddings usually require a two-stage invitation process: save-the-date cards mailed at least six months to one year in advance, followed by formal invitations sent eight to 12 weeks before the wedding. Response cards should list a date no less than one month before the big day. If you forgo the save-the-date step, the VenueLust site advises mailing invitations at least six months in advance, followed by a reminder note three-months before the wedding.
First Announcement: Save-the-Date
Basic save-the-date announcements for a destination wedding provide the full names of the couple, the wedding date and location with city, country and region listed so that guests can arrange transportation and hotel accommodations at the best prices. However, you may provide more details to help people make arrangements to attend, including:
• Hotel options and contact information such as toll-free numbers and websites
• Airport name
• Travel agent recommendations and phone numbers
• Venue specifics for the ceremony and reception
• Typical weather conditions, including average temperatures, for the time of year
• Planned, paid activities
• Optional things-to-do
• Recommended attire
Destination wedding invitations, like other wedding invitations, include specifics such as date, time, location, attire and names of the wedding couple and host, if applicable. You can adapt the wording by using a phrase such as "Please join us in presence or in thought" to show you recognize not everyone can come. If you prefer no gifts, your invitations or an insert card can note "The honor of your presence is the only gift we require." Other cards in your invitation package would provide information not included with your save-the-date mailing, such as maps and directions to the wedding locale, sightseeing opportunities, shuttle services you have arranged and lodging options. The card for accommodations should list any group rates, any adults-only restrictions and contact information. For example: "Group rates are available at the moderate Fairmont Inn (555-555-5555) and the deluxe Hotel Star Resort (222-222-2222). Please mention the Smith-Jones wedding when making reservations."
You may want to prepare a confirmation package to send when you receive RSVPs. This package supplements the information you sent with your invitations with pamphlets and other details about travel, sightseeing activities, hotel facilities and local events. You can then use a variation of this package as a welcome packet to greet your guests when they arrive.
- Venue Lust: Wording & Etiquette: The Low-Down on Destination Wedding Invitations
- Inside Weddings: Invitations for Destination Weddings
- Destination Wedding Magazine: Invite Insight: Expert Advice on Destination Wedding Invitations
- Colin Cowie Weddings: Destination Wedding Invitations
- The Little Book of Wedding Etiquette; Holly Lefevre
- DestinationWeddings.com: Invitations
- Brides: Wedding Etiquette Tips: Destination Wedding
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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